Hydrotherapy treatment for your pet

In the case of certain injuries or health conditions your vet may recommend a course of hydrotherapy treatment sessions for your pet.  This article explains how hydrotherapy works, what it’s used for and what you can expect to happen when you take your pet to the vet clinic for treatment.

What is pet hydrotherapy?

Hydrotherapy is used as a form of rehabilitation exercise for animals recovering from injury or as remedial therapy for joint conditions such as arthritis.  Treatment may take the form of gentle exercise on a treadmill immersed in warm water or swimming in a custom-designed swimming pool.

Hydrotherapy is most commonly used to treat dogs and horses.

How does hydrotherapy work?

Hydrotherapy works by:

  • relieving pain, stiffness and inflammation
  • strengthening muscle tissue and preventing spasms
  • improving joint motion
  • stimulating circulation and boosting cardiovascular fitness
  • accelerating healing and recovery

Exercising in water means that the pet’s natural buoyancy reduces any strain or concussion on his joints or other areas of his body that are recovering from injury.  This allows your pet to regain his strength and build his muscles back up again without causing further damage, allowing his body to heal more quickly. The water is warm, which helps to relax the muscles and alleviate pain.

What will happen at the hydrotherapy session?

The vet in attendance will give your pet a general examination before beginning the session to make sure that the animal is fit to have the treatment. 

Depending upon your pet’s condition, the session might involve use of the treadmill or just the swimming pool.  If the treadmill is being used, the vet will adjust the water temperature, water level and, if applicable, the speed of the treadmill to suit your pet and his condition.  Sessions usually last for about half an hour, including showering and drying time.

General information

  • You will be able to stay with your pet during the treatment session.  Your presence will help your pet to relax and will prevent him becoming stressed.  
  • You won’t need to bring towels with you to dry your pet after the treatment session as drying off is included.  However, it might be a good idea to take a towel to protect your car as your pet may still be a little damp for his journey home.  
  • Most pet insurance policies cover hydrotherapy treatments if carried out by a recognised centre and on your vet’s recommendation.  
  • Your vet will probably ask that you don’t feed your dog for at least two hours prior to the treatment.  Although the exercise is not strenuous, there is a chance that your pet might become upset and sick if it has a full stomach.  
  • A pet-friendly sanitiser is used to treat the hydrotherapy pool water.  This is perfectly safe and your pet will be thoroughly showered after the treatment session to remove any residual chemical from his skin.

In conclusion

Pet hydrotherapy when carried out by a trained vet is extremely beneficial in the rehabilitation treatment of many traumatic injuries or general ‘wear and tear’ conditions suffered by domestic pets.  Visit a vet clinic like Baw Baw Paws Vet Clinic for further information if you think your pet might benefit from this treatment.

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